Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Open Letter To NHL Referees

Dear NHL Referees,

Let me begin by saying that I am not the type of fan that usually blames the referees when my team loses. I am much more likely to blame the players, or a player in particular, for a poor result. However, when a fan witnesses officiating that is so egregious and impacts the outcomes of games in such a real way, there is nowhere else to turn.

I am referring specifically to the officiating in last night's game at Madison Square Garden, game 3 of the 1st round playoff series between the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals, but more globally, I wish to discuss the way the entire fraternity of officials has treated Sean Avery since he has returned to playing in the NHL.

I have been following sports closely for close to 20 years and I know that sometimes it becomes hard to be totally objective and to separate the identity of the players involved when calling a game. Indeed, I have seen Michael Jordan get questionable foul calls and Greg Maddux get dubious strike calls because of their stature. And sure, I expected that when Sean Avery returned to the Rangers that his reputation would precede him and that he would therefore very rarely be given the benefit of the doubt. However, this treatment has escalated to such an absurd degree that it crosses the line and severely calls into question the judgment and professionalism of the referees involved.

Several weeks ago, in a game against the New Jersey Devils, Avery was beaten like a rag doll by Devils forward David Clarkson. Despite the fact that Clarkson was the only player to engage in a fight, as Avery was dragged twice to the ice, both players received penalties. Similarly, the goaltender interference penalty he was given last night was a total joke and there's no way any other player would have been penalized for similar actions. Furthermore, the Avery targeting has been working the other way as well: players on other teams routinely commit infractions on Avery (slashes, high sticks, etc.) that go "unnoticed." It's almost as if the NHL referees have put out the word to the players in the league: do whatever you want to Sean Avery because we're not going to call it.

As referees, your job is to police and manage the game, not to decide it. I implore you: for the remainder of this series and for the rest of the playoffs going forward, call the game as you see it. A penalty is a penalty and a non-call is a non-call, regardless of who the players involved are. This matchup features some of the best and most entertaining players in the NHL and we as fans deserve a series that will be decided by the men in blue and the men in red, not the ones in black and white.

Yours Truly,
Avious Avservations

1 comment:

  1. While i agree it is absurd how he was treated it was not the reason they lost game 3. They were never in the game from the first drop of the puck. They were completly outplayed in every aspect of the game.

    on a separate note i cannot understand why they Rangers are the only team in the NHL that seems to want to upset their fans at every turn. I realize they think that simply playing in MSG gives them a significant home ice advantage however they should take a look around the league. every other team hands out colored t-shirts and the entire arena is one color (orange in Philly, black in Pit, red in Carolina etc.) i have already realized that i will never get a free t shirt at playoff games but i do come to expect the rally towels. the atmosphere when 18,200 screaming fans are waving those towels is amazing. the "light sticks" they decided to give out last night were pathetic. They were difficult the hold and there was nowhere to even put them down (it did not matter since after the opening face off there was no cheering to be done)I am hoping Wed and the return of the rally towel will yield a better result.